Thursday, June 28, 2012


This is a post I've considered writing for the past two weeks; seeing the devastation of the fires in CO, I realized what I really wanted to write and share with anyone who reads my blog. 

Sometimes I (and many runners I know) take for granted the ability to run; a couple of weeks ago, I experienced an incident that reminded me that I cannot take my health or anything else for granted.  My recent runs have been cut short and some of them a struggle; at this time, I do not know if there is an underlying health issue or if it's just stress catching up with me; I do know that I am cherishing every mile and every location where I run. 

Seeing pictures of CO Springs and talking with people there as part of my job, I have been overwhelmed and saddened; I am sad to see so many losing their homes and miles and miles of beautiful wild areas burning.  I cannot fathom what it feels like to lose a home or job due to fire and my thoughts and prayers are with everyone affected.  I know many trail runners are seeing their favorite places burn and, thanks to the wildfires in CA, I know how hard it can be to experience that. 

Most runners forget how blessed we are to be able to run and how fortunate those of us living in safe running areas are.  For the past two weeks, I have gone to bed relieved that my health was good that day; at the end of a run, I am thankful that I had the energy for whatever miles I did at whatever pace I ran.  Now, I will go bed happy that I have a place to sleep and, when I run, that I have a place to run. 

Sunday, June 10, 2012

What goes up, must come down

Today's run kicked my butt (literally my glutes are aching) and left me feeling like I ran at least 50 miles...too bad it was just 20.  I met up with two members of the SocalTrailheadz for today's run; I always wanted to run in the Saddleback Mountains but have either had no time or lots of excuses.  Today I almost talked myself out of it, including during the run, but was very happy to finish in one piece.  It ended up being a warm day and much of the trail was exposed so I was very thankful we got an early start and that I had two gracious companions.

Going into the run, I knew where we were meeting and that we could go to Modjeska Peak and back down a different trail.  Silly me never researched anything about the trails; or maybe it was smart of me as I would have bailed on it.  We started in Silverado on a trail I believe is the Silverado Trail; it was the toughest climb I have encountered in a long time and I instantly felt I was in over my head.  Thankfully, my running partners held a good pace and my legs eventually warmed up.

   View on the climb up
   Still climbing
   And climbing
   More climbing awaits
   Spectacular view of the ridgeline

We eventually connected to the infamous Main Divide and I was not impressed; it was the first of many times we would encounter dirt bike riders and I did not like inhaling the dust or fumes; yet the views were phenomenal.  It seemed like forever before we reached "Four Corners" and the majority of our climbing was done, as were my legs.  The run leader then took us on the "Fifth Corner", an extremely steep (at times) and super technical trail.  I started getting dizzy and my pace climbed as I tried to gain footing; the rocks meant I had to be very careful or I would fall and the surface often was soft and I would slide backwards.  It was an absolutely beautiful trail that landed us on south Main Divide (?), which we took to the top of Modjeska Peak.

   Climbing Main Divide
   The start of the "Fifth Corner" trail
   This was the least technical part of it
     Looking back down the "Fifth Divide"
   Continuing to climb "Fifth Divide"

After a quick break where we refueled, we went back down.  Daniel said it was all downhill from there and he was not exaggerating; thankfully, we skipped the "Fifth Corner" and ran down the less technical Main Divide.  I am not the best on rocky paths and I turned my ankle numerous times, which got increasingly frequent during the descent.  We ran down Maple Springs trail and my legs decided they were done.  I am not accustomed to almost 11 miles of nonstop climbing and 9 miles of non-stop downhill running; I struggled to keep up with them as I kept turning my ankle and tripping as my legs got tireder and tireder.

   View from Modjeska Peak

By the time we hit the pavement for the run back to where we parked near Silverado Trail, my legs and body were so sore.  In the end, we ran 20.25 miles and I was just happy that I did not give up.  It was the type of tough trail run that makes me a better runner and I know I need to hit the trails in that area more often. 

      The elevation profile

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Returning to trails and speedwork

There are two things that I have missed about running over the past few months - trail runs (hills) and faster runs.  When I focused on ramping up long runs for a flat course, I cut out trail runs and the faster runs. 

Since the race was flat and Alan does not love hills as much as I do, our long runs were very flat.  Aside from running Leona Divide, I trained on roads or hills so low that I have a hard time calling them hills.  My legs and brain really miss long hill climbs and the scenery that I love.  So, last weekend Alan and I joined the Socal Trailheadz for the monthly new member run.  It was an easy trail run with baby hills but I loved being out in nature.  I was a member a couple years ago but did not rejoin because my knee issue and schedule limited by running; now I think my schedule will allow me to join them for more runs and I am very excited to be able to run trails I have yet to explore.  I need lots of time on my feet to reach my goals and company to keep me motivated is an added bonus.

My runs were at very comfortable (slow for me) paces and my legs have lost lots of speed.  So, over the next few months I plan on incorporating some faster paces.  Yesterday, I incorporated some intervals and it was disheartening how tough it was to hold certain paces that used to be comfortable.  Granted I may still be recovering from Nanny Goat and I was running into a headwind, but it was a reminder that I need to make at least one run "count."  I feel I have enough of a mileage base to incorporate one faster run (or at least intervals) per week while still focusing on endurance.  It may cause my hip and knee to act up so I am prepared to back off if needed but I have to try; it felt great to break a sweat during the run yesterday and work hard. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

What's next?

As much as I would love to sign up for several summer races, I am keeping myself in check.  We have a very hectic summer and fall ahead of us and I have to focus on priorities.  I decided to take it easy this week and devote this week and weekend to my massive to do list.  Then, work picked up and that meant I could only sneak out for 30 minute runs during lunch. My to do list has yet to be touched and my mind is wandering to fun things, like racing.

I contemplated signing up for Javelina Jundred before the price increase but chickened out Thursday night.  I will have to bite the bullet and pay the extra $25 when/if I register.  I wanted to participate in the training run on the course but just found out we have to attend a family wedding that evening; bummed is a mild way of putting how I felt when I saw the Save the Date card (I love the couple getting married, just not the chosen date).  I'm working on devising a training plan that is worked around upcoming events and hope to see a way in which I can actually train for the distance.  I do not want to attempt Javelina unless I am prepared to go the distance.  Alan cannot go with me to crew/pace and I admit I am slightly (okay, completely) terrified and nervous about doing it without him.  I'd welcome a kick in the pants to make me be less of a wimp and just go for it.